Council tenants who sub-let their homes could be jailed under tough new laws being floated by the Government.
New laws will target an estimated 50,000 people who rent out their council homes - often at a profit - while living elsewhere.
Those abusing the system could have their homes taken off them and face imprisonment following the reforms, housing minister Grant Shapps said. The properties would then be freed up to be rented to those in greatest need on the housing waiting list.
Mr Shapps told the Daily Telegraph: "Social housing is really precious and it's not right that tenancy fraud and abuse locks out some of the most vulnerable families from getting a roof over their heads."
There is currently no criminal sanction against those sub-letting council homes, some of whom are thought to earn as much as £20,000 a year from the arrangement.
Tenancy fraud is believed to cost around £5 billion a year and there are 1.8 million families waiting for a council home.